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Bud Merz's Model T Ford fire wood saw

Posted on 17 May 2016

When I was a kid we would go down to my family's ranch in Northeast New Mexico every few years for a family reunion. My ancestors founded the ranch in the 1590s and it has been in the family since. Over the years the folks on the ranch have figured out different ways to work the land. When my Grandpa was a kid, the family bought a couple of worn out Caterpillar bulldozers and pulled the engines out to power a homemade saw mill. The mill hasn't been used for years, but it's still impressive. The engineless Caterpillars are still where they were parked 70 some years ago when the engines were pulled. The huge blades and mill structure are still intact as well. 

Where scrapping a saw mill together from junk today seems like an impossibly large feat, this sort of farmer ingenuity used to be commonplace. I remember many of the orchards in Western Colorado still had homemade tractors cobbled together from old cars when I was younger. Car engines from wrecked autos were used to power all sorts of things across rural America.

In this video, old timer Bud Merz shows off his impressive and somewhat treacherous looking home grown fire wood saw made out of a scrap Model T Ford. My favorite part of the machine is the homemade fan-powered governor used to keep the engine running at a somewhat constant speed. From what I can tell, it works off of suction from the radiator fan. The fan is constantly pulling on a flap, which is connected to the throttle. As a load is put on the engine and it slows down, the fan doesn't pull on the flap as much, allowing it to relax away from the fan, which in turn pushes on the throttle revving the engine up, bringing it back up to speed and pulling the flap back towards the fan. Brilliant.  

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